Reading List :: July & August

I managed to read a lot more during July and August than previous months this year. It was a bit of a mixed bag of books- some good, some not so, and some re-reads. I like re-visiting books as I always find something new which I never picked up on the first time around, and re-visiting books I read when I was younger is always interesting to see how my perspective has changed.

Burning Bright, Tracy Chevalier

This book took so long to read. I've enjoyed previous Chevalier books, but I didn't find this one particularly engaging which meant I didn't want to pick it up and read as much. I found it a little contrite with the link to William Blake, which didn't really help I think. 

Nutshell, Ian McEwan

I really enjoyed reading this, and whizzed through it pretty quick. The story is an updated version of Hamlet and is told from the perspective of a child in the womb, which was an interesting take.

Mrs Dalloway, Virginia Woolf

This was my first Woolf book that I've read and I think it was a really good one to start with. I enjoyed the parallel narratives which then intertwined.

Never Go Back, Lee Child

Jack Reacher books are fairly formulaic, but that doesn't detract from their enjoyment. I didn't find it quite as exciting as 61 Hours, but I still couldn't put it down.

The Lost Symbol, Dan Brown

Characters who you are continuously told are super smart, but are used for exposition are rather frustrating, which I found with the main character in this. It was enjoyable as an easy summer read, but not one I would spend much time thinking on or recommending to friends.

Howards End is on the Landing, Susan Hill

This was an interesting exploration of Susan Hill's bookshelves, some of which I have since added to my 'to read' list. 

Beyond the Deepwoods, Paul Stewart & Chris Riddell

This was the first Edge Chronicles book that was written, and is the first in the Twig series. I first read this as a teenager and absolutely loved it at the time. I really wanted to give the series a re-read and see how it stood up. I found it a little sparse on the character development, but the illustrations of all the creatures are pretty cool.

Stormchaser, Paul Stewart & Chris Riddell

I enjoyed this re-read more than Beyond the Deepwoods, the characters seem a bit more thought through and the story was a bit more exciting. I had forgotten though quite how scary and grim some of the plot points and characters are!

The Warden, Anthony Trollope

This is the first book in the Barchester Chronicles series, of which I watched the tv series of years ago- if you enjoy period dramas, a youthful Alan Rickman and can get your hands on it I recommend it! It meant I knew the plot of the book, but that wasn't a problem as it was an interesting character study.

The Return of the Native, Thomas Hardy

I think this was my third attempt at reading this book, each previous time I'd got bogged down in the initial few chapters- which has heavy descriptions of the moors- and couldn't get past it. This time it finally clicked though and I ended up really enjoying it. 

Sunburn, Laura Lippman

R bought this for me recently and I couldn't put it down. It was a really great summer read, especially as the descriptions of the hot weather really resonated with the sunshine we were having. It was an interesting thriller/mystery focusing on two characters who each have their own secrets.

Barchester Towers, Anthony Trollope

I enjoyed this second book in the Barchester Chronicles series, probably because it was all nicely tied up at the end, which pleases my optimistic and romantic side. 

Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë

I talked a little about this in my previous post, but this was another book that took me a few tries to actually finish. Considering how much of the violence is off the page, and the fact that I've read much more explicitly violent books before, I found it incredibly powerful in evoking the hate and violence of the characters. 

The Last of the Sky Pirates, Paul Stewart & Chris Riddell

This is the first in the Rook series of the Edge Chronicles. In my reminiscing I always thought I preferred the Twig series, but on re-reading I actually enjoyed the Rook ones much more. Being children's books they are nice and quick to read, and were fun too.

Vox, Paul Stewart & Chris Riddell

The themes that run through the Edge Chronicles books are ones that really resonate with the world right now I found. They deal with the corruption of power, slavery and the apparent triumph of evil characters. 

Freeglader, Paul Stewart & Chris Riddell

This wasn't my favourite book of the Rook trilogy, but it was enjoyable enough and full of lots of action. It was interesting looking back over these books, I found that some aspects were a little simplistic, and the female characters tend to burst into tears frequently, or are tyrannical goblin leaders. 

Lyra’s Oxford, Philip Pullman

This addition to the Northern Lights world is a nice, compact adventure of Lyra in Oxford after all the events of the trilogy. 


Have you read anything good recently?